Alexander Black: The Grandfather of the Dramatic Motion
Alexander (R) getting the grand tour of the lot by Adolf
Zukor (L) in 1919 after hosting the tribute to Black's
contribution to the motion picture industry and celebrating
the 25th anniversary of the first picture play, Miss
Jerry, which opened in 1894. The actress in this
rare photograph had always been referred to as Marion Davies
by Alexander's grandson and is the only clue we have to her
This site is dedicated to the gathering of information
and archiving the work of Alexander Black.
Curious about his story? Here are some links to more
information on this fascinating man.
"The last in the string of premovie projection
entertainments was the movie's closest ancestor, the photo
play. In the late nineteenth century, Alexander Black, an
American author and lecturer, combined the magic-lantern
slide, photography, and narrative to produce a complete play
with live narrator, live actors, and pictorial slides.
Unlike the stroboscopic lantern shows, the goal of these
entertainments was not the visual novelty of reproduced
motion but the realization of the same stories and dramas
that drew audiences to the live theatre. Some of these photo
plays lasted a full two hours and contained as many as four
slides a minute. A striking connection between the photo
play and the early movies is that both used the same
melodramatic plots and stereotyped characters."
Jerry, The First Picture Play. an article by Alexander
Black published in 1895
Before his experiments with the picture play, Alexander
Black was a prominent pioneer in the popular photography
movement of the later 19th century.
Amateur Photographer, an article by Alexander Black
published in 1887
you can make email contact from here to:
Annetta Black: Archive
Director / C.H.
Black II: Project Pilot /
Peter Black: Theories and